Chick-fil-A employees in Hagerstown directed traffic as more and more customers pulled into the fast-food restaurant during Wednesday’s lunchtime rush. The line for food spilled out the door and wrapped around the restaurant, but many patrons said the wait was a cause for celebration, not frustration.
“It's just been wonderful. I had to sit through five stoplights,” Toms said. “Any other day, that would aggravate me, but today, I was smiling. I thought, ‘I don’t care.’ If this is getting people out and it’s making me wait, I’ll wait here a couple hours if I have to.”
Carol Mason of Big Pool said she hoped a lot of people would turn out in support of the company, and was glad they were not deterred by the wait.
Mason said she and her husband came to support “freedom of speech and freedom of opinion,” a cause several people waiting in line echoed.
“We believe that gays have rights, but the gentleman who owns this (Chick-fil-A) has rights, too,” said Lana Reynolds of Hagerstown.
Reynolds said the size of the crowd is proof that many people share the company’s values and are willing to express their beliefs.
“It does show that people have an opinion in the old way, God’s way,” she said.
“We’re supporting Christian businessmen and women,” said Lori Leckron of State Line, Pa. “What they believe, they should be able to do it. And it needs to be shown that we, as Christians, support our fellow believers.”
“This is the first time I’ve ever been,” said Wayne Lafferty of Smithsburg.
Lafferty said he had been working to get the referendum on Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot, and decided to come to the restaurant Wednesday to show his support.
Leckron said she had not expected so many people to participate.
“It’s good. It does show that people care,” she said.
Bomb threat reported
The bomb threat at the Martinsburg Chick-fil-A was reported at about 1 p.m.
The male who called in the bomb threat said a device had been placed inside the business at 1005 Foxcroft Ave., but police said no bomb or device was found. Police said the scene was cleared at 3:49 p.m.
Police said in a news release that they have traced the location of the call and are working to identify the person who placed the call.
Police said they have not released a motive for the bomb threat.
A K-9 “bomb dog” handled by the National Park Service, along with the Martinsburg Fire Department and West Virginia State Police, also responded to the restaurant, police said.
The reported threat happened while the restaurant was packed and vehicles were backed up in the drive-through lane, customers said.
“The managers came and said ... we have to evacuate, we’ll give you a bag for your food,” said Janice McCown of Martinsburg, who was dining with her friend, Roberta Hyde.
McCown believed customers were taking part in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to show their support for Cathy.
“(Cathy has) gotta right to have his opinion just like everybody else does,” McCown said. “This is just sad.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.